Reblog: Stop telling me to forgive my abuser

From Christina Enevoldsen, Stop telling me to forgive my abuser:

It’s easy to understand why there would be so much disagreement considering that there are so many definitions of forgiveness. To some it means accepting the past. Others define forgiveness as letting go of negative emotions. To some, it coincides with reconciliation or feeling no ill will toward towards the abuser, while others believe it has nothing to do with a relationship the abuser.

Added to that, forgiveness is very often preached as necessary for other survivors. It’s one thing to say that forgiveness is important to you, but quite another to insist that it’s important for all survivors or to tell others what’s best for their own healing. That’s when forgiveness discussions turn into defenses against boundary violations and condescending remarks.

….Saying that we all need to be forgiven isn’t helpful. That discounts the serious and repetitive nature of sexual abuse. It’s a shame-making statement to compel a survivor into doing what they “should”. It’s each survivor’s decision to work out what’s best for him or her.”

….“holding a grudge”

Those are all very triggering words to most survivors that I know. Why wouldn’t they be? Who wants to be around someone who is bitter? Who wants to extend support to someone who is resentful? Being labeled as angry means rejection. Those accusations are intended to get us “in line”—to make us conform to cultural norms and to put the happy face back on.

….What’s wrong with feeling ill will toward your abuser? What wrong with complaining about them? What wrong with feeling indignant about their abuse? What’s wrong with expressing anger?

Those are the things I needed to do to heal. Previously, I was numb to the things that happened to me. Coping with the abuse required me to agree with my treatment and to shut down my feelings. But unfeeling isn’t the same as being healed.

….To heal, I had to do the opposite of what forgiveness demanded. I had to finally become my own ally instead of my abuser’s. I had to acknowledge the depth of betrayal and offense that I’d experienced. I had to get in touch with my emotions and feel the pain and anger that was buried. I had to turn with compassion toward myself and give myself the comfort I needed.

While I was pressured to forgive, I didn’t make any progress in my healing. I only healed once I started to make me the focus of my healing without worrying about my abusers or my feelings toward them.

I highly recommend reading the entire post.

  1. sue

    Dear Nyssa, seems like alot of nosey people confuse forgiving with enabling. So many Scripture-slinging wolves out there who really need to muzzle it!

    • Nyssa McCanmore

      Most definitely! 🙂

  2. lisa

    Ok-forgive me if this rambles or is crazy sounding. BUT-you might as well have been writing my life. I have been trying for 3 years to take back my life from my narc. So tonight-when I googled “taking back the power”..your blog came up. I read something you wrote in 2014 but I couldn’t help but freak out. I’ve been trying to frantically find a “contact me” button-but couldn’t so I stalked this comment page. I have tried explaining the narcs kryptonite hold over me-but no one understands. Just walk away they say. Shit. I WISH it was that easy! Narcissists are real. The pain and torment they create is real. And the scars they leave behind are very real. With every fight I have been able to peel a tiny bit of myself away from him. Brain ninjas. Anyway-I guess I just have a freak out moment because it really is difficult. Thank you

    • Nyssa McCanmore

      Thank you for your comments. I’m glad my blog has helped you. 🙂 Yes, people often say it’s as if narcs all have the same “playbook.” I’m finally free of the hold my narcs had over my mind, but it took a while to get there. First thing I had to do, I guess, was to stop freaking out about seeing them in my blog stats. I only stopped looking for about a week, but that was enough to get back on track. Then I started laughing at seeing them there all the time. Now they haven’t been back for nearly two months, so I think they’ve lost interest. The comments and “contact me” are turned off in many places because I see so many other narc/abuse blogs get nasty comments.

  3. lisa

    Oh–and the thing about having to not look at blog stats…THATS what got me. Because again–exact. same. thing.

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